Gardner-Webb University Staffer Helps Children With Limited Resources Go Back to School With Free Haircut

For five years, Keith Rhodes has provided free haircuts to children and youth with limited means headed back to school. (Photo provided by Keith Rhodes)
For five years, Keith Rhodes has provided free haircuts to children and youth with limited means headed back to school. (Photo provided by Keith Rhodes)

A new cut gives school children “an extra boost of confidence,” says Keith Rhodes, who aims to provide it for families with limited resources.

Keith Rhodes knows the importance of a good children’s haircut and the struggle with its cost for families who have limited resources. When Rhodes was 10 years old, his single mother, Janade, couldn’t afford a haircut for her son’s picture day at school. Embarrassed at the thought of going to school to take a picture without a sharp style, Rhodes retreated to his home’s bathroom with the tools to carefully prepare his own hair to face his classmates and the camera.

“Having that haircut gives a child an extra boost of confidence in class,” says Rhodes, a staff member at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C. “I’ve been there and can relate to students and parents in families who struggle financially. That’s why I decided on the Saturday before school starts back that I’m going to cut hair, for free, for as many kids as possible.”

In August, for the fifth straight year, Rhodes provided free back-to-school basic haircuts at Maple Springs Baptist Church between the North Carolina towns of Shelby and Boiling Springs. The service was available for all girls and boys up to high school age who attend classes in Cleveland County.

Rhodes says his pastor, Robert Dover, and local barbershops have helped support and advertise the haircut program, which started with about 20 kids the first year and has since more than doubled in the number of children served each summer. He said people come from across the county for haircuts, including one father who drove his son on a moped to the church to get a haircut the first year and now comes every year.

“When I went to school with the haircut I gave myself, nobody knew the difference, and from that time on I cut my own hair,” Rhodes says. “The first time I cut my hair it took me six hours. I got faster and faster to where I could cut it in 20 minutes.”

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SOURCE: Baptist News Global
Matthew Tessnear

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